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Are Your Field Service Operations Still Paper-Based?

According to Zebra Technologies, 22% of top field service providers rely on paper based processes throughout their operations despite having enterprise information systems, productivity tools, and enterprise mobility strategies. This indicates that these enterprises aren’t fully benefiting from automation.

“We’re Using Paper Too, and We’re Doing Fine”

While you may be comfortable with traditional paper based documents, you should be aware of how they can negatively affect your enterprise’s productivity in the long run. Here’s why.

  • Paper Documents are Problematic – Many issues can arise both on-site and at the back office due to illegible handwriting or even the loss/theft of documents. This, in turn, results in delays in service delivery and costly breaches of Service Level Agreements.
  • Paper is Constrictive – Manual data entry is time-consuming as most employees prefer jotting down notes in a hurry before actually writing on paper forms. This, by itself, is a risk as they can forget important details that can escalate into hazards later.
  • Manual Processing is Inefficient – Processing paper documents demands a lot of time from everyone involved. As this is a repetitive, tedious task, the risk of errors is quite high.
  • Accountability Issues May Arise – Paper documents do not have geo stamps or timestamps, two mechanisms which enterprises now use to prove where and when an inspection was carried out. Some personnel can take advantage of this, increasing the risk of hazards on site.
  • Enterprises Incur Unnecessary Costs – According to an AIIM survey, enterprises spend $4.56 per paper document. This sum, however, may not include the cost of scanning, printing, and circulating these documents. So, you can expect to pay even more for each paper form or document.
  • Paper Limits Effective Communication – One of the biggest inefficiencies of paper is that it affects communication. When lost, stolen, or not submitted on time, documents fail to communicate time-sensitive and mission-critical information. This can cause disastrous implications due to delays.

“So What Do You Suggest to Improve Our Field Service Operations?”

One of the essential (and relatively easiest) ways to ensure success in field service is accurate data collection. By integrating, collecting, and delivering the right data to the right people, field service providers can reap huge benefits.

Mobile forms have proven to be the most effective methods for collecting and sharing data in different industries, including construction, mining, and logistics. When used in field service, they allow companies to reap huge benefits including:

  • Correct Data Entry – Mobile forms ensure accurate data entry as they can be designed with components such as drop-down menus and auto-complete text fields. Some forms can also be designed with sections which appear based on user roles, their responses to certain questions, or any other criteria. Not only can this help new employees, it can ensure good habits in the whole workforce since no corners can be cut while filling mobilized forms.
  • Better Communication – Forms can be configured to send submitted data in real-time to business systems and/or directly to specific personnel. This eliminates the need to scan and mail them, or to travel a considerable distance to submit them in person.
  • On-the-fly Updates – Unlike paper based forms, mobile forms can be updated quickly. Form designers can make changes swiftly and publish new versions across employees’ devices almost instantly. This simplifies version control and ultimately ensures the enterprise’s compliance with regulations.
  • Improved Compliance – Monitoring, reporting, and auditing for compliance purposes can be simplified with these digital forms. Not only can they speed up processes, they help employees ensure compliance targets are met in every project, every time.
  • Easy Data Access – As you eliminate paper forms from your field service operations, you won’t need to go through the tedious task of searching through filing cabinets. Data is digitally stored and easy to retrieve, saving both time and resources while streamlining reporting, cross-checking, and auditing.
  • Managed Costs – Mobile data collection is more cost-effective as it greatly reduces the costs associated with paper, including time, resources, transportation, storage, and the actual paper itself.
  • Enhanced Decision Making – Data collected via mobile is accurate and reliable. Combined with business intelligence tools, the resulting information allows decision makers to take effective action.

“Will Mobile Forms Really Benefit Our Enterprise?”

Many enterprises have embraced mobile forms and reaped their benefits, possibly even your main competitors. However, if you wish to assess the business value for this solution, consider the following questions.

  • Are your field worker technicians spending a considerable time on filing out work order records and other documents?
  • How much time is the back office spending on data entry once forms are submitted?
  • How much is the enterprise spending annually on paper forms? (Don’t forget to include the cost of printing and circulating these forms)
  • Have you had inaccuracies which affected the performance of workers on the field?
  • How does your back office personnel handle problems with written paper documents?
  • Are other departments involved in resolving issues related to submitted data? How much time do they invest in this task?
  • Is your current process flexible enough to allow changes on the fly? Would your employees be able to react accordingly?
  • How would your clients rate your services? Is there room for improvement?

You can also try downloading and using our Ready2Use Forms. The mobile forms app provides over 80 forms for Safety, Business Development, Project Management, and Human Resources.

So, don’t stay behind in the paper era and bring your field service enterprise to the paperless future.

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